A place in the heart of the city that still oozes rustic charm and reminds one of the bygone times is Pottery Town in Bengaluru which is home to generations of clay workers. As it is off-season — when they are not working on making idols and clay items for festivals — only biryani bowls and tea kullads were seen fresh off the wheel, baking in the sun on the porch of every house.
Rajshekar (45) who has been a potter for more than 15 years and is representing the fifth generation of his family in the profession, spoke about the business and how clay cookware is seeing a resurgence. He says, “The pottery business depends on the market’s demands. Currently, there is a demand for biryani bowls, tea kulhads (handle-less clay mugs) and lassi glasses both by five-star hotels and pocket-friendly restaurants. Bengaluru needs 50,000 kulhads a day and I make around 1,000 daily.”
Rajshekar, a master craftsman started his career making pots for a popular food chain; at the time clay pots were mostly used by hotels and restaurants for sweets.
Once a regular in every home, clay cookware went into a decline but has seen a huge surge in the past few years. Clay pots not only enhance the flavour of food, but also adds significant minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, sulphur, and magnesium, to a dish.
Dinakaran (43) left his corporate job 15 years ago to pursue his passion for pottery. “Customers run the business, so I provide whatever they demand,” says Dinakaran. He believes that a businessperson should have a thorough understanding of both the business and the clients.
The current market needs tandoors for restaurants, kulhads for cafes, clay cookware for household needs, and customised products. He also includes clay refrigerators and clay compost bins in his pottery collection. Dinakaran claims that after the pandemic as people began to utilise clay items again, the pottery industry began to revive and is in a better position than it was before COVID-19.
Chandrashekhar (44), who is also carrying on the family heritage, had a magnificent collection of car-shaped and human-head planters. He, too, bases his business on the needs of his customers and idol sculptors.
Many potters feel business has boomed after COVID-19 as individuals grew more health-conscious and strove to improve their eating habits. On a larger scale, as people try to combat global warming by planting trees and nurturing indoor plants, potters contribute to the cause by creating a variety of exquisite, eco-friendly planters that entice customers to have as many plants as possible in their homes.